Monday, May 30, 2005

The EU Constitution as a Reinheitsgebot

The defeat of the proposed EU Constitution by the French on Sunday should not come as a surpise. Constitutions are interesting things. The best are not like the German beer purity laws (Reinheitsgebot) or the French laws on cheese. They establish working conditions that allow a society to operate. The beer laws specified when and how beer should be made and consumed - differentiating rules for summer and winter. The French rejection and the upcoming Dutch one are signs that the drafters did not get it right.

The EU has been touted for the last several years as something a lot more than it is. It is a pretty good free trade zone - with some rough edges. It is not a growing community - although there are many similarities in approach (economic growth for one - the EU countries commit a lot of their resources to governmental solutions and a lot less to economic growth) there are also wide divisions among the partners on fundamental issues of culture and even how to interact.

What the EU has gotten right in the last several decades is an increasing ability to talk - Europeans, as opposed to Americans, are much better at speaking another language. But the bureaucrats in Brussels have claimed to much, certainly much more than they should. Keeping the internal parts of Europe from bickering into wars is no small task - and the rest of the world should be appreciative. Even the unification of currencies is a bit of a reach. But beyond that seems just a bit of talk.

One observer got it right - Roman Prodi, the former president of the European Commission, "This is still better than a war of secession like the United States once had," he said in a telephone interview. "I'm serious now. We must keep this perspective in mind. We don't have a treaty, but we also don't have wars." OK, but the people like Prodi suggested that rejection would mean the end of the Union - of course it will not - but the definitions will certainly change.

If you want to read what was rejected, or you are suffering from insomnia see the proposed European Constitution

There is a good post explaining some of the dynamics of the election which includes the electoral map (with a RED-Non and Blue- Oui division - mostly RED) at Powerline